By Kris Smith
The Belfast Giants are the first team to arrive in Dundee as they look to claim their first win in Tayside this year after suffering a 3-2 loss on penalty shots back in September.
The Stars had not played any preseason friendlies before being chucked in at the deep end in their first competitive game with a mostly new team and new head coach. However Dundee came back from a one-goal deficit – twice, before overcoming the Giants in a shootout, to secure the extra point in the Challenge Cup group stage.
Riley Stadel was the hero for the home side, scoring the first goal of the season and the shootout winner in his first Stars appearance and professional league game. Although it was a very different story across the pond in Belfast as the Stars fell 7-4 to a Blazing Belfast offence. There was 10 different scorers on the night and it was Belfast who took a 3-0 lead inside the first period before extending it to 4-0 in less than 3 minutes into the second period.
Dundee pulled two goals back before conceding a powerplay goal, however the Stars grabbed one of their own before the middle period expired. Although Belfast started the third period strong and continued their dominance by adding to their 5-3 lead with another two goals, including a third powerplay goal of the night, before Omar Pacha’s Stars scored a consolation goal in the final minutes.
This is the third meeting between the sides Dundee come into the weekend on a two game losing streak after losing their last two games in overtime. Also their last three games have required overtime to find a winner but their most recent game is yet to be concluded. A double header with Guildford last weekend seen the Elite League newcomers steal an extra point from the Stars at the DIA, after the game finished 2-2 after 60 minutes with the Flames winning in extra time.
Although the second game in Surrey was abandoned due to poor ice conditions. The game was tied 2-2 after the first period but after an hour delay the second period would not start as the ice was in an unplayable condition and the referee abandoned the match. The league is yet to announce its decision on the outcome or replay of the match and if the Stars will be paid compensation for making the pointless 500-mile round trip.
Meanwhile Belfast came back form 3-0 down to defeat the Braehead Clan in a shootout in Glasgow last Saturday night before narrowly slipping past the Edinburgh Capitals 4-3 in regulation at Murrayfield Ice Rink.
Riley Stadel has one goal and assist against the Giants this side and scored the winning penalty shot in their first meeting, Adam Harding has two goals against the Irish side, one at home and the other in Northern Ireland. Dundee’s Swedish scoring duo Jimmy Jensen and Johan Anderson combined for a goal each in their 7-4 loss to the Giants and the Stars assistant captain Joey De Concilys has one goal and assist from the two games.
John Kurtz, Dustin Johner, Jonathan Ferland, Darcy Murphy have all scored against the Stars this season, additionally so has Brendan Connelly, who has two goals and two assists from his games versus Dundee and was part of the trio that failed to beat Dundee Goalie Travis
Fullerton in the Challenge Cup shootout. Sebastien Sylvestre and Colin Shield were the other two Giants that could not beat the Stars netminder. Sylvestre has two goals and an assist from both games, with Colin Shields picking up a single goal and assist.
Belfast puck-stopper Jackson Whistle has won 9 of the 15 games he has featured in, conceding a total of 46 goals and making a total of 377 saves, Dundee were the cause of 6 goals against Whistle from 63 shots.
Meanwhile Dundee’s Fullerton who has performed outstandingly for the Tayside team so far this season. has won just 5 of 14 matches, including 2 overtime losses,1 shootout win and 1 shootout loss. He has made 441 saves from 492 shots, thus conceding 51 goals in the 14 games.
Dundee Stars head coach, Omar Pacha, said: “It’s a big weekend for ourselves playing two top teams in the league, we have had some really close games recently but we still haven’t found the way to put teams away in the 60 minutes.
“We are playing well but there are still areas we will need to improve over the course of the weekend, because Belfast are a fast team with a lot of upside offensively and Manchester are bigger, more physical but still with good skill.
“Two different matchups but two games I feel confident that if we play our game we will give ourselves a chance to win.“
Stars forward Adam Harding added “We have a big game coming up tonight against Belfast, first game against them in the regular season with us already playing them twice in challenge cup taking a game each. We’ve had a good couple days of practice and have a pre game skate this morning to prepare for the big home game at the DIA.
“Belfast have a couple injuries but will still be a very tough team to beat as they are a strong team and have done well so far this season. They are a highly skilled team with a lot of guys who can put the puck in the net. It will for sure be a tough test for us.
“But I believe we have come into some good form with going back to back overtime games against Coventry and then another overtime game against Guilford in the past weekend, we have been battling hard and picked up some valuable points lately. Hope for a big turn out for Friday and Saturdays games.”
Face-off is at 7:30pm and tickets are still available from the DIA box office (01382 431900) and online.